Everyone Alive Today Came From A Single African Country, Study Claims

Humans have been on the planet for millennia, but where did we all come from? The truth is that civilization wasn’t always spread across the globe the way it is now. Scientists have been working for years to find out where humans actually came from, and a new study from the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute claims to have discovered our origin. The researchers believe everyone alive came from a single country in Africa.

  1. A lot of data was used to come to this conclusion. Using modern and genomes data from a whopping eight databases, the scientists created a “huge family tree” to find commonalities and to look for more clues. “We have basically built a huge family tree, a genealogy for all of humanity that models as exactly as we can the history that generated all the genetic variation we find in humans today,” explained Dr. Yan Wong, one of the studies authors and an evolutionary geneticist at the Big Data Institute. “This genealogy allows us to see how every person’s genetic sequence relates to every other, along all the points of the genome.”
  2. It’s all about “tree sequences.” Genomic regions only come from one parent. You don’t get yours from both your mother and father. Instead, it’s one or the other. The researchers considered each point on the genome as a tree. Multiple points create a “tree sequence,” which is then used to find our ancestors. Pretty cool, right? By doing this, scientists can figure out where we came from.
  3. Doing this was incredibly enlightening. Dr. Anthony Wilder Wohns, the other lead author of the study, explained the fascinating process and the info it unveiled. “Essentially, we are reconstructing the genomes of our ancestors and using them to form a vast network of relationships,” he explained. “We can then estimate when and where these ancestors lived. The power of our approach is that it makes very few assumptions about the underlying data and can also include both modern and ancient DNA samples.”
  4. So, where in Africa did everyone who’s alive come from? According to the study, we can all be traced back to Sudan, Africa. “The very earliest ancestors we identify trace back in time to a geographic location that is in modern Sudan,” Dr. Wohns told Reuters. “These ancestors lived up to and over 1 million years ago, which is much older than current estimates for the age of Homo sapiens—250,000 to 300,000 years ago. So bits of our genome have been inherited from individuals who we wouldn’t recognize as modern humans.”
  5. While this study isn’t 100% conclusive, it does give us some great insights. More research needs to be done to discover how correct this data is, but it’s fascinating to think about, for sure.
Jennifer has been the managing editor of Bolde since its launch in 2014. Before that, she was the founding editor of HelloGiggles and also worked as an entertainment writer for Bustle and Digital Spy. Her work has been published in Bon Appetit, Decider, Vanity Fair, The New York TImes, and many more.